Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F is a plant of the genus Tripterygium of the family celastraceae. Many preparations, mainly from its root, have been used clinically, among which the polyglycoside (TP) has shown better effects.
Many side effects, however, have been reported. About 45% of patients who received TP complained of such adverse effects as skin rashes, skin pigmentation, stomatitis and softening of finger nails. In female patients treated with TP, reduction of menses was noted 4 weeks after initiation of therapy, and amenorrhea was observed in 30% and 90% of the cases respectively 3 months after and 6 months after starting the extract.
In male patients, the number and motility of sperms were reduced and the sperm disappeared completely after a month. In general, the longer the duration of administration and the older the patients, the smaller the probability of their menses or sperms returning to normal. Besides, frequent upper abdominal pain, nausea, reduced appetite were also reported and impairment of hepatic and renal functions appeared in a few cases. [Chin Med J (Taipei) 1996; 57: S35]